By Rick Reeno
IBF junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu steps into hostile waters when he faces unbeaten challenger Ricky Hatton. The bout takes place in Hatton's hometown of Manchester, England and the entire arena will be packed with rabid Hatton fans.
This bout may or may not answer several questions about both fighters.
1. Does Kostya Tszyu still have the stamina for a 12 round war?
2. Does Hatton have the chin to withstand the punches of Tszyu?
3. Is Hatton ready for such a step up in class?
4. Is Tszyu really the same pound for pound fighter that everyone remembers prior to his two year layoff due to various injuries?
One of these men will move on to demand a shot at the winner of the June 25 pay per view battle between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Arturo Gatti. The reality of the winners of both fights meeting down the road is very slim. Mayweather and Gatti are locked into contracts with HBO, Hatton and Tszyu are locked in with HBO's rival Showtime. The only way the winners of these two great bouts will meet is if the networks come together to give the boxing public what it demands.
****Round by Round Coverage has started****
The MEN arena looks like a madhouse, there is not an empty seat in the house as over 22,000 fans are screaming wild for hometown hero Ricky Hatton. The time is 2am in the morning and thousands of fans are yelling support for Hatton at the top of their lungs.
Ricky Hatton is making his way down to the ring, the arena is in a frenzy. Hatton is making a Naseem Hamed like entrance, music, fireworks and special effects are all being used as Hatton makes his way down to the ring. The crowd is so loud that Hatton's entrance music is being drowned out by the noise.
Hatton is in the ring, Kostya Tszyu's entrance should be coming up shortly.
Tszyu is making his way down to the ring, I can't even tell what music is being played for Tszyu because of all the loud chants in support for Hatton.
Kostya Tszyu is in the ring. The national anthems will now be sung for both fighters' countries.
Actor Russell Crowe is ringside for the fight.
Hatton is being introduced, a huge reaction from the crowd. The crowd is ripping Tszyu as he is being introduced.
Round 1 - The entire arena is on their feet for the start of the fight. Hatton comes right Tszyu, he gets tied up. Hook by Hatton. They keep getting tied up. Right on the inside by Hatton, hook by Tszyu. Hatton is jabbing his way in and lands a left, they keep getting tied up. Hatton pushing TSzyu back with his jab. Two shots upstairs by Hatton to the back of Tszyu's head. Hatton is smothering Tszyu and they wrestle. Ref warning both men for wrestling. Good right by Hatton. Right by Hatton, counter by Tszyu and Hatton charges him into the ropes ready for war. Ref breaks them up again. Hatton gets the first round on my card.
Round 2 - Hatton jabs in and they get tied up. Hatton just charging in with power shots, and gets Tszyu against the ropes, Hatton firing away on tszyu against the ropes. Bodyshot by Hatton, Right by Hatton. Tszyu with an uppercut on the inside. Hatton is looking to wear down Tszyu with a very active bout. Hatton gets Tszyu against the ropes but misses a few punches, combo by Hatton, Hatton landing uppercuts against the ropes. Right hand by Hatton. Hatton just throwing bombs on the inisde, ref is no longer breaking them apart when they get tied up. Hatton blcoking much of everything Tszyu throws. Hatton pushes Tszyu back with more shots. Hatton with a big round.
Round 3 - They are wrestling around, Hatton trying to jump on Tszyu and Tszyu is countering much better now. Tszyu seems to be trying to get Hatton from a distance but Hatton keeps getting inside and not allowing Tszyu to get the distance. Combo by Hatton and Tszyu with a one-two. Hatton pushing tszyu into the ropes. Hatton uppercuts on the inside, Tszyu goes up and a big bodyshot downstairs. Hatton to the body and Tszyu goes upstairs. Tszyu landing better on the inside. Very close round that I will give to Tszyu.
Round 4 - Tszyu misses a big right at the start, Hatton is landing back to back combos and smothering Tszyu on the inside. Jab by Hatton, Hatton and Tszyu are trying to land big lefthooks. They are wrestlin around, big right by Hatton as tszyu goes back. tszyu with a big right on the inside. Hatton uppercuts on the inside. Good left by Tszyu, Hatton digs to the body. Hatton with a big combo. Hatton keeps backing tszyu into the ropes and the ref bearks them. Close round for Hatton.
Round 5 - They both go for big shots at the start, both miss. Tszyu lands a lefthook from a distance. Tszyu is trying to work in close on the inside. Hatton landing some good comnbos. Hatton with a combo of the ropes. Very physical fight so far as they are wrestling a lot on the inside. Right by Tszyu and Hatton doesnt budge. Good left by Tszyu. Wild miss by Tszyu. They wrestle close, break apart and Hatton punches his way out. Good round for Hatton.
Round 6 - The crowd is going nuts even when Hatton misses, I wonder if the crowd will help Hatton in the scoring. A big left by hatton pushes Tszyu back and off balance, crowd goes nuts as Hatton jumps on Tszyu against the ropes and Tszyu gets away. They continue to battle at close range on the inside, Hatton gets a warning for a rabbit punch. Tszyu with a left. Hatton jabbing. Jab and a right by Hatton, hatton keeps coming and lands a bodyshot. Tszyu with a right, Hatton charges inside and backs Tszyu up. Tszyu landing some good short punches on the inside. Another close round that I will give to Hatton.
Round 7 - Big left by Tszyu and a quick right, Tszyu to the body with a combo. Upperut by Tszyu, Kostya has not been over 6 rounds since the Tackie fight in 2002. hatton missing wild shots and not even defending himself. Tszyu is counter very well, good combo by Hatton. Lefthook by Tszyu. Big right by Hatton. Straight right by Tszyu and Tszyu is countering very well. Swelling under the left eye of Tszyu. Bodyshot by Tszyu, Hatton goes down, but the ref calls it a slip. Flurry by Hatton at the bell. Round for Tszyu.
Replay shows the punch landed under the belt line by Tszyu, but there was no ruling that the shot was low.
Round 8 - Both men throwing big shots on the inside, left by Hatton and good hook on the inside. Uppercut and left hook by Hatton. Hatton jabs and pushes Tszyu's head back. Tszyu pushes Hatton down to the mat. Hatton with a combo, straight right by Tszyu. Hatton just keeps on coming and keeps on throwing. Another round for Hatton.
Round 9 - Hatton with a combo and digs to the body. They trade right hands and Hatton getting the better of the exchange. They are brawling on the inside and Hatton with an uppercut. Huge bodyshot, it is very low and Tszyu goes down. ref calls it a knockdown and the ref is giving Tszyu time to recover. Hatton charges Tszyu, but Kostya making him miss. Another round for Hatton.
Round 10 - Tszyu with a right, left by Hatton. Shot by Hatton on the neck of Tszyu. Right by Hatton. Both men are throwing bombs in this round. Hatton going after Tszyu against the ropes. Right by Hatton on the sinde, punches by Hatton are pushing Tszyu back.Right by Tszyu, Hatton with an uppercut and starts mugging Tszyu with shots against the ropes. Round for Hatton.
Round 11 - Hatton is landing some good combos and Tszyu is countering back with some big shots. Right hand by Hatton. Hatton is walking down Tszyu and throwing wild big shots. Tszyu countering well and making Hatton miss some shots. Big right by Hatton pushes Tszyu back. Hatton stumbles on a miss. Close round for Tszyu.
Tszyu needs a knockout on my card, he also needs a KO on the card of the Showtime announcers.
Oh My GOD!!!!!!!!!! Tszyu will not come out for the final round. Ricky Hatton with a huge upset, Tszyu has quit. Hatton is the new IBF junior welterweight champion and on top of the world. Crowd is going crazy, Hatton has just stopped the top fighter of the junior welterweight division. Hatton wore Tszyu down and now has to be considered a pound for pound best.
Tszyu just saluted Hatton to the Manchester crowd, said his career may or may not be over. Tszyu said that tonight the better man beat him. Hatton praised Tszyu to the crowd.
Tszyu telling Showtime that after the 11th round, he was tired, exhausted and knew that it was impossible to win. He felt that he was that far behind on the scorecards.